Twenty-eight people died Dec. 14 after 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother Nancy, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and opened fire. Twenty children and six staff members died at the school and Lanza was found dead from a self-inflicted wound at the scene.
Dylan Hockley smiles online in a series of family photos. He’s Shrek, his mom writes. Or he’s “Super Dylan” — posed in a Superman outfit. In other images, he poses with his brother, Jake.
Dylan, 6, was one of the pupils at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., slain Friday in the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Dylan had lived across Yogananda Street from where the violence began. His neighbor, Nancy Lanza, was the mother of the suspected shooter — and apparently the first person killed Friday.
A senior administration official said Obama will travel to Newtown Sunday to attend an interfaith memorial scheduled for the evening.
Nancy Lanza’s brother is a police officer in Kingston, N.H., and her family has longtime ties to the Granite State, according to the Union Leader.
The newspaper reported that Lanza’s brother and Adam Lanza’s uncle, James Champion, is a Kingston police officer. Nancy Lanza and her now ex-husband Peter lived in Kingston until 1988. Nancy Lanza had acquired the property from her mother in 1987, the newspaper reported.
A colleague said James Champion was too distraught to speak, but read a prepared statement on CNN in which he expressed “heartfelt sorrow for the incomprehensible and profound loss of innocence.”
The United Way of Western Connecticut, in partnership with the Newtown Savings Bank, has set up a Sandy Hook School Support fund to provide services to families and community members affected by Friday’s school shooting.
Donations by check can be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470
In addition, friends of the family of 6-year-old Emilie Parker have set up a fund to help the family at the America First Credit Union. Individuals can also donate via PayPal using the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a link to the fund’s Facebook page.
At the request of local authorities, the Red Cross has sent 50 volunteers, including mental health professionals, to work with the community.
“My name is Robbie Parker. My family is one of the families that lost a member… yesterday.” So began a press conference with the father of six-year-old Emilie Parker.
He first sent his condolences to the victims’ families, particularly to the family of Adam Lanza, saying he cannot imagine the pain of what they are experiencing now.
He talked about how he was teaching his daughter Portuguese and their last conversation was a short, sweet conversation in that language, ending with an “I love you.”
He said he felt no anger toward the shooter.
His friends in Utah set up a fund on Facebook to raise money for the family, and Parker said the outpouring of affection from people on the Facebook page made him feel the need to publicly respond.
In his address on Friday President Obama promised “meaningful action” in the wake of the Newton school shooting.
But what exactly would ‘meaningful’ gun reform look like? The Post’s Wonkblog offers this summary of proposals from advocacy and think tanks that could reduce gun violence in the United States.
Among the ideas – more extensive background checks and a ban on certain type of firearms. Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff offers more details.
Dan Holmes, a landscaper who worked on Nancy Lanza’s home, said about a year ago she brought out an antique rifle in a case to show him.
“Guns were her hobby,” Holmes said. “She told me she liked the single-mindedness of shooting.”
He said he never met her sons, but said she told him she took her youngest, Adam, to a gun range. Authorities say Adam Lanza fatally shot his mother in his home and 26 others at Sandy Hook Elementary School
Nancy Lanza, Holmes said, seemed like “a normal everyday lady.”
Holmes said that while she collect old guns, he had no idea she might have the type of weapons used in the school shooting.
“That was a shock,” he said.
Holmes said Nancy Lanza never invited him inside, and would even pay him in the yard.
She liked good draft beers and was a regular at a local bar called My Place, he said.
Todd Werden lives across the street from the home of seven-year-old Grace McDonnell, who was shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. The two families shared a school bus stop. On many mornings, the Werdens saw Grace’s father, Christopher McDonnell, a competitive runner, out for jog.
“It’s heartbreaking, just heartbreaking,” said Todd Werden. “It’s just unfathomable.”
Werden described Grace as “a real cute little blonde girl with blue eyes — a real little doll.”
The McDonnell family residence, despite the grim pall cast over their home by the loss of a child, was brightly decorated for the holidays.
“Last night it was all ablaze with Christmas lights,” Werden said. His family also lives close to the home of gunman Adam Lanza, 20. His mother, Nancy Lanza, was reportedly found dead inside their home on Yogananda street.
“If he was pissed at his family, why did he feel like he needed to go to the school and kill all those kids?” Werden said. “I can’t understand it. Nobody will be able to understand it.”
Twelve girls, eight boys and six women were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., as well as the gunman. Here is a list of the victims, their ages, and their gender, as provided in alphabetical order by authorities:
- Charlotte Bacon, 6, (F)
- Daniel Barden, 7, (M)
- Rachel Davino, 29, (F)
- Olivia Engel , 6, (F)
- Josephine Gay, 7, (F)
- Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6 (F)
- Dylan Hockley, 6 (M)
- Dawn Hochsprung, 47 (F)
- Madeleine F. Hsu, 6, (F)
- Catherine V. Hubbard , 6, (F)
- Chase Kowalski, 7, (M)
- Jesse Lewis, 6, (M)
- James Mattioli, 6, (M)
- Grace McDonnell, 7, (F)
- Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (F)
- Emilie Parker, 6 (F)
- Jack Pinto, 6, (M)
- Noah Pozner, 6, (M)
- Caroline Previdi, 6, (F)
- Jessica Rekos, 6, (F)
- Avielle Richman, 6 (F)
- Lauren Rousseau, 30, (F)
- Mary Sherlach, 56, (F)
- Victoria Soto, 27 (F)
- Benjamin Wheeler, 6, (M)
- Allison N. Wyatt , 6 (F)
An undated photo provided by a family member to ABC News reportedly shows a smiling Nancy Lanza, the mother of suspected gunman Adam Lanza.
The principal of Columbine High School said scenes like the one that played out in Newtown, Conn., have become all too familiar, according to a report on denverpost.com.
Frank DeAngelis was principal at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 when two students killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.
“It’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are as a society,” DeAngelis said. “As a society we have to come together, we have to stop these senseless deaths.”
Despite news stories that there may have been a confrontation between Adam Lanza and school staff members earlier in the week, Lt. J. Paul Vance said at a press conference that there were no reports of any altercation.
Randy Parker remembered his granddaughter Emilie Parker as a loving child who always looked out for others, according to an account in the Deseret News.
The paper said that Emilie’s parents, Robbie and Alyssa Parker, grew up in Ogden but moved to Connecticut so Robbie Parker could take a job in the medical field. A fund had been created by family friends Brad Schultz and Alan Prothero on Facebook in Emilie’s memory.
“She was very loving,” Randy Parker said. “She just loved taking care of people. If she saw people with their feelings hurt, it was, ‘What can I do to help?’ She was that kind of child.”
H. Wayne Carver, the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut, gave an update in Newtown on the examination of the victims. A few of his key quotes:
- “Of course, the manner of all these deaths has been classified as homicide.”
- “I’ve been at this a third of the century… this probably is the worst I’ve ever seen or the worst I know of any of my colleagues I have seen, which makes me all the more proud and grateful to our staff.”
- “All the wounds were caused by the long weapon.”
- “I only did seven autopsies and they ranged from three to 11 wounds a piece.”
- “We did not bring the bodies and the families into contact.”
- When asked about Nancy Lanza’s injuries, he replied, “I have not examined her yet. That’ll be tomorrow morning.”
With the close connections and intertwined lives of any small town, the shooting Friday touched some families in multiple ways. In a conversation with The Post, Gilles Rosseau recounted how his daughter Lauren knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in fifth grade. She came home telling her parents stories about school and how nice her teacher was.
Gilles Rousseau worked with that teacher, George Hochsprung, from time to time, editing photos or video with him. And Rousseau took the pictures at Hochsprung’s wedding, when he married the woman who became Sandy Hook Elementary School’s principal.
This fall, Lauren Rousseau would call her dad after work, telling him stories about school and how nice the principal was. On Friday, both Lauren Rousseau and Dawn Hochsprung were shot and killed.
A principal is a leader, and Newtown High School principal Charles Dumais spent part of Saturday ministering to his flock via Twitter.
“Healing starts today,” he tweeted. “Be strong, Newtown.”
Dumas’s helpful tweet of a Harvard Business Review article on successful people dealing with stress was retweeted by Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung at 4:34 a.m. Friday, hours before the massacre. (It was her last post on Twitter).
On Saturday morning, Dumas thanked those who sent condolences to him and to the school district. He also retweeted this message from Texas teacher Donna Meyer: “Sandy Hook is proof that teachers wear many hats, have difficult jobs, and need our prayers/support daily.”
The digital footprint of Adam Lanza is beginning to appear online. But given the initial confusion Friday over the identify of the gunman, these images should be viewed with a certain amount of caution.
The Danbury News-Times reports on court filings it has reviewed from the divorce of Peter and Nancy Lanza, the parents of shooter Adam Lanza:
When the parents of Adam Lanza divorced in 2009, the couple’s relationship had broken down over “irreconcilable differences.”
Once the divorce papers were finalized, the father, Peter Lanza, agreed to provide significant alimony payments to his ex-wife, Nancy Lanza, including monthly payments of $10,000 a month and increasing to a minimum of $12,450 up until 2023.
The Post’s WorldViews bloggers have gathered some interesting information about how America compares with other countries in terms of gun control and gun related deaths.
Max Fisher writes that the U.S. has far more gun-related killings than other developed countries. He also ponders whether there are lessons to be learned from Japan, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and almost no gun deaths.
Meanwhile, Olga Khazan looks at maps created by The Guardian’s Simon Rogers to see how the U.S. compares with the rest of the world when it comes to gun violence.
One of the victims wounded in this summer’s shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo., was a young man named David Barton. After recovering, Barton became active in the gun control movement. He appeared in an advertisement for the advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and lists the group as his employer on Twitter. Speaking as an advocate, a survivor, and a native son of Connecticut, Barton wrote an op-ed about Newtown in today’s Hartford Courant:
In the wake of Aurora, our country did what we so often do after suffering a national tragedy: We reflected, we mourned, we observed a moment of silence. Our elected officials in Washington offered their condolences, but little else. There was no action taken to ensure that something so horrific never happened again. Washington avoided starting a meaningful dialogue on gun violence, and the costs of that were tragic.
Just weeks after we said “never again,” worshipers at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin were brutally murdered with guns. They were followed by several women in a beauty salon outside of suburban Milwaukee, shoppers in a mall near Portland, Ore., and most recently the young victims at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
Barton and a friend were making a chance stop in the small Colorado town on Day 44 of a cross-country bike trip. He shared his experiences from that trip and the terrifying night that ended it with the Post’s Brady Dennis here.
Edward Small wrote his first story there. Got in trouble for calling Ross Perot a bad name there.
The Boston Courant reporter has written a moving essay on his grade school for The Atlantic. Mainly, he wants the world to know that his hometown, now associated with violence, never showed him ”anything but family and friendship and love.”
Newtown, he says, is also about: the Labor Day Parade and the General Store sandwiches; Newtown High School soccer and the $2 movies at Edmond Town Hall; and St. Rose of Lima, not just for candlelight vigils but for weddings and baptisms.
The same day as the shooting in Newtown, Conn. a Bartlesville High School student was arrested in Oklahoma on charges he plotted to bomb and shoot students at the campus auditorium, the Associated Press reports:
An arrest affidavit says Chavez tried to convince other students to help him lure students into the auditorium, chain the doors shut and start shooting. The Tulsa World reports that authorities say Chavez threatened to kill students who didn’t help.
In Alabama, in a third incident, a man opened fire early Saturday at a hospital, wounding a police officer and two employees before being shot and killed by another officer.
Mary Sherlach, 56, the school psychologist, was the mother of two grown daughters and married to a Morgan Stanley financial consultant. She and William Sherlach had been married for 31 years. Their oldest daughter, Maura, 28, teaches high school chorus in New Jersey. Their second daughter, Katy, is studying for her PhD in chemistry at Georgetown University. Sherlach had been Sandy Hook’s school psychologist since 1994. She graduated from college at SUNY Cortland, and earned a master’s degree in psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. On her Web site, Sherlach listed her hobbies as gardening, reading and theater.
Now at special service at St John’s church in Sandy Hook. Bunch of over-zealous photographers were just asked to leave twitter.com/AdamGabbatt/st…
— Adam Gabbatt (@AdamGabbatt) December 15, 2012
Adam Gabbatt, a reporter and blogger for the Guardian captured this scene at a special service at St. John’s Church in the Sandy Hook neighborhood on Saturday. Gabbatt reported that photographers were asked to leave.
The Newtown school shooting has led many news organizations to carefully consider their coverage of a story that involves so many young victims. Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute offered these thoughts on coverage.
NBC News is reporting that Adam Lanza had an “altercation” with four staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School the day before he went to the school and killed 26 people, including 20 children.
Connecticut and federal officials told NBC it was unclear why Lanza, 20, had argued with staffers at the school on Thursday.
Connecticut State Police said Lanza forced his way into the building on Friday.
The Post’s Nikita Stewart reports that the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said he plans to use his sermons Sunday to address gun control, which the Episcopal Church strongly supports.
National Cathedral officials announced that Hall will preach on the topic at the 8:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. services in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre , the second-deadliest shooting event in U.S. history.
The United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with the Newtown Savings Bank has set up a Sandy Hook School Support fund to provide services to families and community members affected by Friday’s school shooting.
Donations by check can be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470
The Wall Street Journal reports another teacher’s name: Vicki Leigh Soto, 27, who died during the shooting. A Twitter account that appears to belong to Soto’s sister tracks Carlee Soto’s terror and acceptance:
— Carlee Soto (@ICarlee23) December 14, 2012
New town shooting. 20 students and 6 adults dead. My sister died protecting her students. God why do you take her?
— Carlee Soto (@ICarlee23) December 14, 2012
Hug your loved ones an tell them how much you love them because you never know when you’ll see them again. Do this in honor of Vicki.
— Carlee Soto (@ICarlee23) December 15, 2012
“Lauren Rousseau’s life was shaping up in the best ways,” the profile in the Connecticut News-Times begins. Rousseau, 30, was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, making plans with her boyfriend to see “The Hobbit” on Friday night. But her family, the paper reports, has learned she was one of six adults shot and killed Friday morning. Lauren’s mother, a copy editor at the paper, spoke of Lauren as the “gentle, spirited, active young woman.” Read the full story here.
Leaders in school systems across the country are sending words of support to the Newtown community. The Post’s Valerie Strauss captures the sentiment on her blog, The Answer Sheet.
Perhaps more than any other school system in the country, the Jeffco Public School District in Colorado, understands tragedy. The district includes Columbine High School, the site of the 1999 shootings in which two students killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 23 others before killing themselves. The district issue this statement:
Jeffco Public Schools is heartbroken for the families and the community in Connecticut that have lost innocent lives. Their loss is unfathomable and profound – we hold them in our hearts and prayers.
Please be assured that our staff does everything they can to keep your children safe. Safety precautions are a part of every school day and our staff is always vigilant. We will heighten our awareness even more over the next week and will continue to protect your children while they are in our care.
Other local school leaders have also expressed their support for the Newtown community at the same time they have tried to reassure anxious parents that safety is a top priority on their campuses. Many have said they will have grief counselors on hand when classes resume on Monday.
Read more from school leaders in prince George’s County, New York and Aurora, Colorado.
President Obama spoke of the Newtown school shootings Saturday in his weekly address.
“Our hearts are broken today, we grieve for the families of those we lost and we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived because as blessed as they are to have their children home, they know that their child’s innocence has been torn away far too early,” the president said, adding that the nation has “endured far too many of these tragedies.”
“We have to come together and we’re going to have to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies from happening regardless of politics.”
From the Associated Press: “Gary Seri, general manager at the Stone River Grille, prepares to hang a message written on a table cloth in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. Seri said the teachers were scheduled to have their holiday party at his restaurant.”
Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center found that recent mass shootings have had little impact on the public’s attitudes toward gun control.
Pew, which has been tracking opinions toward gun control for close to 20 years, conducted its most recent survey in July, shortly after a shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in which 12 people were killed. That survey found that 47 percent of Americans said it was more important to control gun ownership, while about 46 percent said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.
Pew found that opinions were largely unchanged from a similar survey the research center did in April.
Pew researchers determined that opinions on gun control have been closely divided since 2009. By contrast, from 1993 to 2008, a majority of those surveyed said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.
Whether the most recent shooting at Newtown will have an impact on attitudes remains to be seen.
Read more about Pew’s findings over the last two decades.
During the press conference, State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance shed some light on one question about the shooting: How Adam Lanza got into the school.
“He was not let in voluntarily” to the school. He “forced his way in,” Vance said.
When asked if there were e-mails or notes that the shooter left, Vance said they “have recovered good evidence.”
Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance provided some new information this morning and promised further press conferences today. Some of his points:
- The gunman was not allowed into the school, but “forced his way in.”
- Asked whether any writings had been recovered, he said police “have recovered good evidence.”
- The victims’ names likely will be released later today.
- An injured staff member who was shot is expected to recover and she will be “instrumental” in this investigation.
- The families of the victims have each been assigned a trooper to maintain their privacy. “Please respect their privacy,” Vance said. “They’re going through a very difficult and trying time.”
- The medical examiner and the school superintendent will speak later today.
- A crisis intervention team has been set up to help the townspeople of Newtown. They can be reached by phone at 203-270-4283.
There are now conflicting reports as to whether or not Nancy Lanza worked at the school. Initially, it was reported that she was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, but she may have been a substitute teacher or teacher’s aide. We’re continuing to look into her connection the school.
Connecticut State police released a statement Saturday morning detailing the events of Friday. It reports that processing the school’s crime scene will take several days.
Teams encountered several students and staff suffering from gunshot wounds. The building was secured, the ”shooter” was located deceased, and Newtown EMS personnel entered to provide emergency care for the wounded. Eighteen (18) children were pronounced dead at the scene, two children were transported to Danbury Hospital and later pronounced dead. Six (6) adult victims were also pronounced dead at the scene. Teams located the shooter on scene; he was also pronounced dead. The perimeter was also searched and secured by responding law enforcement.
Also in the statement, the victims’ families request no press interviews. Read the full statement here.
Update, 10:30 a.m.: Police at the news conference said they were not yet ready to release the names.
Original Post: Reporters in Newtown, Conn. are standing by for a news conference, in which police are expected to announce all the names of the victims killed Friday. Only two names have been released officially so far — Nancy Lanza, the mother of gunman Adam Lanza, and Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary. The New York Times has also identified Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, as another victim.
Gerald Stomski, the First Selectman of nearby Woodbury, told the Associate Press: “[Hocbsprung] had an extremely likable style about her… She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here.”
Read more about her here.
“Many of the questions are just wondering what were the last moments of these people’s lives like? They were wondering did the child even know what was happening, were they afraid, did they see something coming?… And of course no one can answer that question because there were no survivors, so these parents are left with those unanswered questions in addition to just why this had to happen, why to their child?’’
— Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, who led a packed vigil at the church Friday evening and accompanied police to notify some families, speaking on the Today Show Saturday morning.
Among those mourning family members today are Ryan and Peter Lanza, the brother and father of Adam Lanza, and the son and ex-husband of Nancy Lanza, who police suspect was the first killed Friday morning.
Peter Lanza apparently learned the news from a reporter who came to his home. Ryan Lanza had a much more public experience: law enforcement sources initially misidentified him as the killer, and he was vilified online for his alleged role before police named his brother as the killer.
Craig Timberg has the full story on Ryan’s ordeal:
So much bad information spread so quickly after Friday’s school massacre that few at first noticed the 10-word shout of truth that Facebook delivered from a man enduring a day of almost unimaginable horror: “IT WASN’T ME I WAS AT WORK IT WASN’T ME.”
On Friday morning, Newtown, Conn. became Everytown, USA, The Post’s Joel Achenbach wrote, when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on a school children. “The news got worse with every bulletin. Shots fired in an elementary school in Connecticut. Three dead. No, many dead. Children shot. Children killed. Kindergartners.”
Today, as police continue to piece together what happened, and as a community mourns the loss of 27 people, we’ll be following the developments on the live blog again.
The police are expected to hold a press conference this morning, and Post reporter Sari Horwitz had this news about the guns Lanza used:
Law enforcement sources say that three firearms were found inside the elementary school. The three guns, a Glock, a Sig Sauer pistol and a Bushmaster rifle, were all registered to Adam Lanza’s slain mother, Nancy Lanza.
A fourth firearm was found outside the school. No details were immediately available about that gun.
In all, four firearms had been registered to Nancy Lanza, law enforcement sources said. They said that other firearms were registered to his father.
Friday the U.S. witnessed the second-worst school shooting in its history, eclipsed only by the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007. We’ll be winding down our live blog for the night, but we’ll continue our live coverage on our site, and we’ll be back in the morning to follow any new developments.
As the day wraps up, here’s what we know about this morning’s events:
What we do know:
- Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire in two classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where his mother Nancy was a teacher, at around 9:30 a.m. this morning.
- Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at the school. He also committed suicide and, killed his mother Nancy at home, bringing the death toll to 28. State police are still identifying victims, but school principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung is among the dead.
- He carried two pistols, a Glock and a Sig Sauer, and drove to the school in his mother’s car.
- Students hid in closets and classrooms until they could be evacuated through the parking lot.
- Adam’s 24-year-old brother Ryan was brought into custody for questioning, but is not believed to be involved. Officials and many media outlets, including the Post, mistakenly reported that Ryan was the shooter earlier today.
- The public response to the shooting has, unsurprisingly, been strong. President Obama choked back tears during a statement; gun control advocates have also started a popular online petition and gathered for a protest outside the White House. Mark Kelly, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the governors of Colorado and Virginia also made statements.
Law enforcement officials said Adam Lanza shot his mother Nancy at home and drove her car to the school. Lanza reportedly lived with his mother in Connecticut. His brother Ryan, who lives in Hoboken, N.J. and is 24, is cooperating with investigators.Ryan is not under arrest and not in custody.
In Newtown, the St. Rose of Lima Church was filled to capacity with those attending a vigil, with several hundred people spilling outdoors.
Tim Cervera, 13, said he is a student at Newtown Middle School, and said his neighbor a young girl who was killed, but he wouldn’t give her name. “She was carefree, lighthearted, she lived down the road, she was always happy.”
“I was scared that they would come get us at our middle school,” he said.
Update, 11:33 p.m., from Post reporter Steve Vogel:
Newtown’s St. Rose of Lima remained open at 11 p.m., and will keep its doors open all night.
“I have a seven-year-old daughter, and a 19-month-old son, and I can’t even imagine what the parents of the children killed are feeling,” said Kevin Shaw, a resident of New Milford.
Like others in the hushed crowd, John Sansonetti awaited with dread the release of the victims’ names. “I know when the names come out, we’re going to know some of them,” he said. “It’s so sad — I don’t know why anyone could do that,” said his 16-year-old daughter, a junior at the local high school
“The worst school shooting ever,” said Mark Dowling, 15, who attended Sandy Hook and now is at Newtown High School. “You’d never think that in this town.”
According to local reports in Connecticut, the Sandy Hook principal has been confirmed as one of the victims from this morning’s shooting by a Danbury school official. As the Stamford Advocate reported:
One victim has been identified, Sandy Hook School principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung.
She was a smart, positive, enthusiastic educator, said Danbury Deputy superintendent William Glass.
Glass received confirmation Friday that Hochsprung was killed in the shooting at her school.
Glass hired her for the Danbury schools as an assistant principal .
`She had a tremendous intellect and a wonderful way with children,” he said.
“It would not be unusual to see her down on the floor working side by side with students.”
She had a wonderful sense of humor and was always smiling.
“That was her trademark,” he said.” She was an amazing educator. She was everything you would want.”
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) issued a statement on Friday saying she hopes President Obama’s call for “meaningful action” to prevent future tragedies like Friday’s mass shooting would renew discussions about gun control.
“The Second Amendment is the law of the land but it was never intended to allow murderers to take the lives of innocent kids, ” McCarthy said in a statement.
Vanessa Williams has more over at Post Politics.
The Associated Press has an update on Ryan Lanza, the older brother of Adam Lanza, the alleged gunman in the deadly shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school. (Law enforcement sources had mixed up the two names in earlier reports.) According to AP, officials said that Ryan Lanza has been “extremely cooperative during questioning” in New Jersey.
Ryan Lanza is not believed to have any involvement and is not under arrest or in custody, but investigators were still searching his computers and phone records, said the third official.
Head here for more.
Law enforcement sources have identified the gunman who killed 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning as Adam Lanza, 20, now dead. His mother, Nancy Lanza, was a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, where the shooting took place. Nancy Lanza was among the first killed in the attack, law enforcement sources said, and many of the young victims were her students.
Dorothy Hanson, the grandmother of the alleged shooter and the mother of Nancy Lanza, was reached at her home in Florida. She said she could not fathom the violence that took her daughter’s life.
“I just can’t cope with it right now,” Hanson said while crying. “She was my daughter, and a beautiful girl, and I loved her. I just can’t make any more comments than that right now.”
Local reporters who were watching the home of Peter Lanza, father of alleged school gunman Adam Lanza, said they saw state police check on the house earlier Friday. (Police had first identified the dead gunman as Ryan Lanza, but now say that Ryan was Adam’s brother. CNN reported that Ryan Lanza told police that his brother had used his ID.)
After police left, the Stamford Advocate reported that:
Peter Lanza, a vice president of taxes for GE Energy Financial Services, arrived home minutes after police left and politely asked a Hearst Connecticut Media Group reporter: “Is there something I can do for you?” after rolling down the window of his blue Mini Cooper.
When he was told his address had been linked to the Newtown school shooting, Lanza took the news as a blow — his face turning from patient to surprised and horrified. He promptly rolled up the window of his car, declined to comment, and pulled his vehicle into the right door of the two-car garage, before closing it behind him.
Moments later he could be seen sitting at a table in the front of the house, talking on the phone.
NBC News is reporting that the guns used in the shooting were purchased legally — and registered to the suspected gunman’s mother:
UPDATE: Weapons used in shooting were legally purchased and registered to gunman’s mother, law enforcement officials tell NBC News
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 14, 2012
Law enforcement officials identified the shooter’s mother as Nancy Lanza, a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary who was among the first slain on Friday morning.
This post has been updated.
Police audio recordings from Newtown, Conn., reveal a chaotic scene.
A petition calling for new gun control legislation is gaining traction on the White House’s online petition site, with more than 15,000 signatures as of 5:25 p.m. ET, growing to more than 18,800 by 6 p.m. The petition needs 25,000 signatures to get a response from the White House.
The petition calls for a “bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.”
Read more on the Post Politics blog.
“Evil visited this community today,” Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy (D) told said during a press conference in Newtown on Friday evening. He offered his prayers to the victims of the deadly school shooting and their families.
Malloy was mayor of Stamford, Conn., during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when several Stamford residents perished. During his brief remarks, he told reporters that he never thought he’d have to face “these kinds of circumstances” again.
Until Friday, Sandy Hook Elementary — serving a reported 575 students in kindergarten to fourth grade — was in many ways an ideal school, with top test scores and a principal who was clearly proud of where she worked.
Dawn Hochsprung, the principal, kept an active Twitter presence. She tweeted education articles, notes on school meetings and — more than anything — photos of activities at the school.
There are pictures of a fourth-grade recital. Pictures of kindergartners playing cashier. In light of Friday’s tragedy, there is a particularly heartbreaking photo of schoolchildren lined up in the parking lot, practicing an evacuation drill.
Sandy Hook students enjoy the rehearsal for our 4th grade winter concert – a talented group led by Maryrose Kristopik! twitter.com/DHochsprung/st…
— Dawn Hochsprung (@DHochsprung) December 12, 2012
Hochsprung’s tweets are peppered with exclamation points that broadcast her enthusiasm for and pride in her school.
“Sandy Hook hosted district admins for instructional rounds today,” Hochsprung tweeted last month. “Amazing visit showcased deep learning!”
Judging by its test scores, Sandy Hook is indeed a good place to learn. According to the education nonprofit GreatSchools.org, third- and fourth-graders scored in the top percentile on standardized reading, writing and math tests. That would have made Sandy Hook one of the academically best elementary schools in the state.
“Saddest day in Newtown,” tweeted the principal of the district high school.
“We need prayers in Newtown,” tweeted a math teacher. “Lots of prayers.”
John Koblin at Deadspin just posted an e-mail sent out to ESPN staffers, outlining how the Connecticut-based company should proceed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
The e-mail from Mark Gross, ESPN’s senior vice president and executive producer of production, calls for:
- No tweeting about sports (A follow-up e-mail, also posted on Deadspin, says that sports-based tweets can resume on Sunday at noon, likely with Sunday’s NFL schedule in mind)
- ESPN anchors and other on-air employees will “come on the air and acknowledge the tragedy,” showing tweets from athletes before seguing to highlights and other content
- Any appropriate ads will be taken down for the weekend
ESPN is based in Bristol, Conn., which is roughly 40 minutes northeast of Newtown.
Head to Deadspin to read the entire thing.
Washington area schools are reacting to the horrific reports coming out of Connecticut in the wake of the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown.
Prince George’s County school officials said they plan to beef up security around elementary schools and that, as a safety precaution, there will be additional patrols, said Briant Coleman, school spokesman.
— Ovetta Wiggins
A parent of a second-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., describes his feelings of “sheer terror” upon hearing of the shooting rampage.
In Newtown, Conn., churches are organizing impromptu services, and flags are flying at half-mast in the wake of Friday morning’s deadly shooting.
The Washington Post’s Rebecca Cohen is at the White House, where there’s a rally under way to call for stricter U.S. gun laws:
Dozens of people gathered outside the White House on Friday afternoon, raising candles and chanting “Today is the day,” to urge President Obama to take action against gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
“Although I really appreciate [the president’s] tears and his prayers… for me, after 40 years, it is not enough,” said Toby Hoover of Ohio, who lost her husband to gun violence.
Andy Pelosi, the director of Gun-Free Kids, said Obama should sit down with leaders of Congress immediately and discuss what laws would most effectively help avoid the kind of deadly violence that shook Sandy Hook Elementary earlier Friday.
Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police, spoke with the media shortly before 5 p.m. and said that the basic facts of the shooting remain the same. There were 27 people killed in the shooting, which includes 20 children. There was one shooter, and the shooting took place in a single section of the elementary school.
The state police are still not prepared to confirm the identity of the shooter, which has already been confirmed by other law enforcement officials.
Police are still working on identifying all of the victims and notifying their families, he said. “We will leave no stone unturned as we look at every facet of this investigation,” Vance said.
Two children were transported to area hospitals and pronounced dead at the hospital, Vance said.
The elementary school is kindergarten through fourth grade, he said.
Vance said he doesn’t have any new information on the secondary crime scene. But he did confirm that they brought a bomb squad to the scene.
The state police will likely have one additional briefing at 6 p.m. and then resume briefings on Saturday morning.
This post has been updated.
Mark Kelly, husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, posted a note to Facebook a short time ago saying that the response to the Newtown school shooting must include “more than regret, sorrow, and condolence.”
Kelly’s note called for leaders to “have the courage” to discuss how gun control laws can be reformed and enforced. “This can no longer wait,” he wrote.
Giffords and 18 other people were shot by a gunman at a town-hall meeting outside a Tuscon, Ariz., shopping center in January 2011. Six people were killed.
Head to PostPolitics for more, including how Kelly addressed the Tuscon shooter in court last month.
Investigators have now identified the deceased gunman in the Newtown shooting as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, a law enforcement source has told The Washington Post.
Adam Lanza is believed to be the brother of Ryan Lanza, whom police had earlier identified as the gunman. Ryan Lanza’s whereabouts were unclear on Friday afternoon.
Law enforcement sources said that Adam Lanza’s mother, a kindergarten teacher at the school, was among the first killed Friday morning. And many of the young victims were her students.
The Associated Press reported more details on the shooting:
According to the second official, the suspect drove to the scene of the shootings in his mother’s car. Three guns were found at the scene — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols — and a .223-caliber rifle. The rifle was recovered from the back of a car at the school. The two pistols were recovered from inside the school.
Read the AP story here.
The idea that one mass homicide might inspire another has given way to plenty of articles and papers about whether the press should be more conscientious in the way it reports on these events. Giving a killer too much publicity might be a bad idea.
The bulk of the data, however, suggests that researchers just don’t have a strong idea about what drives mass killings, or why they’ve increased of late. Here’s how a 2010 article in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology sums it up:
While there are conflicting reports that the Newtown gunman was named Ryan Lanza, law enforcement officials believe that the killer was a relative of Ryan Lanza’s mother, a kindergarten teacher at the school. Lanza’s mother was among the first killed Friday morning, and many of the young victims were her students, sources said.
Connecticut State Police say there is a secondary crime scene related to the deadly shooting this morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Police haven’t confirmed any details. But local reporters in Connecticut have seen a heavy amount of police and ambulatory activity on Yoganda Street, where the Lanza family has a residence. Police have identified Ryan Lanza as the deceased gunman, but there have since been conflicting reports about the name of the shooter.
— Jenny Wilson (@jennydwilson) December 14, 2012
Cops blocking ROad at Yoganda st newtown, area secured twitter.com/jennydwilson/s…
— Jenny Wilson (@jennydwilson) December 14, 2012
According to Google Maps, the street appears to be in a neighborhood off of Interstate 84:
Lt. J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police, said in an interview with CNN that it doesn’t appear that any law enforcement officials fired their weapons at the school. This matches with earlier reports that the gunman had killed himself.
Vance said officers who arrived at the school entered the building and found the slain and injured students and adults.
Vance described the secondary crime scene related to the shooting as a residence “not too, too far away” from the school.
“We’re responding and checking everything and anything that could possibly be related to the tragedy,” Vance said.
There is confusion about the identity of the gunman in the Newtown school shooting. This afternoon, The Washington Post and other news organizations reported that law enforcement officials had identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter who killed students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary earlier in the day.
Now, other organizations, such as the New York Post, are saying the shooting suspect may have a different name. Gov. Dannel Malloy and state police gave no new information about the shooter’s identity during the most recent press conference in Newtown. But in conversations with Post reporters, law enforcement officials are saying there is now some confusion about the identity of the gunman and that the shooter could be a relative of someone named Ryan Lanza.
Adding to the confusion, a number of news sites (including The Post, for a few minutes) noted this Facebook page as belonging to shooting suspect Ryan Lanza. Details from that Ryan Lanza Facebook account matched up with some of what was known about the Ryan Lanza whom police identified as the alleged shooter — both have connections to Newtown, Conn., and Hoboken, N.J.
There were no recent updates on that Ryan Lanza’s public Facebook profile. But across social media platforms, people shared snapshots that appeared to show the owner of that Facebook account renouncing any involvement in the shooting. The account has since been deleted.
I’m FB friends with the profile being sent around. This is a real screen grab. twitter.com/MattBors/statu…
— Matt Bors (@MattBors) December 14, 2012
This post has been updated
The Connecticut State Police have released numbers of those killed in the Newtown shooting:
18 children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
2 children died at a hospital.
6 adults were killed in the shooting.
1 additional adult, the gunman, died at Sandy Hook Elementary.
1 adult was found dead at a secondary crime scene.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) addressed the media minutes ago:
“A number of our citizens, beautiful children, had their lives taken from them, as well as adults,” he said.
Malloy said that the shooter was dead, as was “a person that the perpetrator lived with.”
He thanked President Obama and the other public officials who have helped or reached out.
After Malloy spoke, he stepped aside for law enforcement officials. They emphasized that this was an “active, ongoing case” with many elements they couldn’t discuss. In response to a question from a reporter, a law enforcement official said there was one shooter, but stressed again that they were still investigating.
There were 27 total deaths in the Connecticut school, according to officials. That total includes 20 children, six adults and the shooter. In addition, one person was found dead at a “secondary crime scene.”
From The Washington Post’s Peter Finn:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade group, which is headquartered in Newtown, Conn., issued the following statement:
Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy in our community. Out of respect for the families, the community and the ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment or participate in media requests at this time.
In light of today’s shooting in Connecticut and remarks from White House press secretary Jay Carney, a group of gun control advocates are planning a protest at Lafayette Park outside the White House at 4:30 p.m.
“Tell Jay Carney today IS the day to talk about gun violence,” an organizer wrote in an e-mail announcing the event. “We demand a plan to stop the slaughter of our children.”
Read more about the protest on the Post Politics blog.
The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, and according to this map by The Guardian’s Simon Rogers, America’s rate of gun-related homicides also compares unfavorably to many other developed countries.
Read more on how U.S. gun homicides compare to the rest of the world on the WorldViews blog.
President Obama addressed the public from the White House shortly after 3:15 p.m., wiping tears from his eyes as he spoke about the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“This evening, Michelle and I will do what every parent in America will tonight, which is hug our children a little tighter and tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind ourselves how deeply we need them,” he said.
The president offered his condolences to the victims and to the survivors, noting that this kind of tragedy was not rare. The Newtown shooting comes just days after a gunman killed two people and himself at a Portland, Ore., shopping mall.
“Our hearts are broken today for the parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults that were lost,” the president said. “Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well. For as blessed as they are to have their children come home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early.”
Read the full remarks here.
Before last summer’s shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., 52 percent of Americans supported stricter gun laws. After the shooting, that percentage was virtually unchanged.
In fact, mass shootings appear to have little immediate impact on the public’s perception of gun laws, and the public increasingly views these shootings as “isolated incidents,” not signs of social problems, according to polling data.
Below, some more findings on how Americans feel about mass shootings and gun laws from The Washington Post’s Scott Clement:
- The public expressed broader support for tightening gun laws before Obama’s election, though the reason for the drop has not been firmly established.
- Americans polled consistently believed, from 2000 to 2011, that the best way to reduce gun violence is by enforcing existing laws rather than passing new laws.
- In early 2011, Americans preferred stricter enforcement by a 57 to 29 percent margin in a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
- A Pew Research Center found 67 percent of the public said the shooting in Colorado is emblematic of an isolated act of troubled individuals, not evidence of broader problems in society. (That’s up significantly from 58 percent after the 2011 shootings in Tucson, Ariz., where then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was injured and 47 percent following the 2007 shooting spree at Virginia Tech.)
- A January 2011 Washington Post-ABC News poll found a 57 percent majority supported banning high-capacity ammunition clips with more than 10 bullets, but two-thirds opposed an across-the-board ban on handgun sales.
- The public split about evenly on semiautomatic handguns (48 percent supported ban, 50 opposed), a shift from 2007 when the public supported such a ban by 55 to 41 percent in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings.
Watch live video of President Obama’s remarks:
Amidst the death and tragedy at Sandy Hook, some stories of heroism have emerged this afternoon.
An 8-year-old boy told a local CBS affiliate that bullets were flying past his him in a school hallway when a teacher pulled him into her classroom and saved his life. The bullets sounded “like someone was kicking the door,” he said. (Footage of the child and his mother is at the 0:20 point.)
A 17-year-old who lived nearby raced to the school to find his little sister after hearing gunshot echos, according to the Boston Globe. The sister, age 9, heard a scream on the intercom but was otherwise fine.
Reporters on the ground in Connecticut are starting to share reactions from students who were in the building at Sandy Hook Elementary. And there are reports that a big brother heard the gunfire and raced to the school to check on his younger sister:
— Hena Daniels (@HenaDaniels) December 14, 2012
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) December 14, 2012
3rd grader tells me she was in gym class and heard gunshots. Entire class huddled in corner to stay safe. #Newtown
— Liz Dahlem (@lizdahlemNBCct) December 14, 2012
Lisa Procaccini, the parent of an 8-year-old at the school, tells CNN that her daughter said school officials kept her calm during the shooting and told her the loud noise was hammering going on.
Eventually police came in and let her daughter and her teacher leave the school building.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, recalling the deadly mass shooting at Virginia Tech more than five years ago, released the following statement this afternoon:
It is with a heavy heart and the deepest of sympathies that I learned earlier today of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted by the events transpiring today, and to the teachers, emergency responders, and all others touched by this tragedy. Unfortunately, Virginia has our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and we continue to grieve for all those lost on that April day. We are all too aware of the impact that events like this can have on a community. If there is anything Virginia can do to assist Governor Malloy and the citizens of Connecticut, we stand ready to do so
A law enforcement official confirmed that the gunman’s name is Ryan Lanza. Before the school shooting today, he fatally shot his mother. His mother worked at the school. A handgun and a rifle have been recovered inside the school. A second person is being questioned, but at this point, law enforcement don’t think he is involved. The gunman killed himself.
The Associated Press reports:
A law enforcement official says the attacker in the Connecticut elementary school shooting was a 20-year-old man with ties to the school.
Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said at an afternoon press conference that a call came in to 911 shortly after 9:30 a.m. from the elementary school. Newton police called State Police around 9:40 a.m., he said.
Vance said that several people were killed in the shooting, including students and staff. The shooter is dead inside the building, and the building has been secured.
Today’s shooting has elicited a flood of emotional tweets. The updates range from pure sadness to specific calls for changes (or no changes) in national gun laws.
At 1:30 p.m. ET, these were the top Twitter Trends in the United States:
Below are just a few of the tweets that stuck out.
I can’t get the mental image of 5-year-olds being slaughtered as they played at school out of my mind. I’m heartbroken.
— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) December 14, 2012
Acts of senseless violence are always tragic, but this is especially true when innocent children are involved. Horrified at today’s events.
— West Lee (@NotthatAdamWest) December 14, 2012
— Naomi Hart (@naomihart) December 14, 2012
ABC News is reporting that the gunman in today’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting wore a bulletproof vest at the time of the attack.
Connecticut requires that civilians buy bulletproof vests and other body armor in person, an unusually strict rule. That means the gunman — if he did wear such a vest — could not have bought it online and would have had to demonstrate that he had committed no felonies or serious juvenile offenses.
Earlier this week, it was widely reported that Jacob Tyler Roberts, who gunned down two people in a suburban shopping mall in Portland, Ore., was also wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time of the attack. Those reports turned out not to be true.
Oregon law does not require that civilians buy body armor in person.
The Associated Press is reporting that officials have recovered two guns at the scene of the shooting.
According to ABC News, the shooter was wearing a bulletproof vest.
President Obama called FBI Director Robert Mueller and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy mid-day Friday to receive the latest information on the shooting and express his condolences and concern for those who lost loved ones and for those injured, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
NBC News interrupted their breaking news broadcast to report that an is in custody. A gunman is reportedly dead. It’s unclear what role, if any, this individual may have played in the shooting.
From The Post’s Ed O’Keefe:
The office of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) issued a statement this afternoon saying: “Senator Lieberman and his staff are closely monitoring the situation in Newtown, CT. The Senator’s and Hadassah’s prayers go out to all those affected by this tragedy today. What is important now it to give the first responders and local authorities the support needed to address the situation as it changes and keep the community of Newtown safe.”
Lieberman was at the White House for a bill-signing, according to aides.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the state’s former attorney general, commented via Twitter about two hours after the shooting:
My thoughts & prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary & #Newtown community on this tragic day. Hoping for safety of students & teachers
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) December 14, 2012
White House press secretary Jay Carney says President Obama has been briefed on the shooting, but that today is not the day to discuss policy. The following report comes from Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker:
At the White House, President Obama was briefed on the shooting at 10:30 a.m. Friday by John Brennan, his homeland security adviser. White House press secretary Jay Carney could not confirm any details of the shooting, but he said the FBI is supporting state and local law enforcement authorities as they respond to and investigate the incident.
“The president will receive regular updates as the day progresses,” Carney said.
Carney would not characterize Obama’s reaction to the news. But he noted that the president sees such news as a father of two daughters and feels “enormous sympathy for families that are affected and [wants] to do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement, to support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event.”
“I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.
We put together a grim ranking in the wake of this summer’s shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 people dead.
A mother who said she was in the school when the shooting occurred told CNN that she heard “at least 100 rounds” being fired during the attack; previous reports from witnesses at the school reported fewer shots.
The Hartford Courant is also reporting that “many of the shootings took place in a kindergarten classroom.” One class is still unaccounted for outside the school.
CNN is reporting that the Sandy Hook school principal and psychologist are dead, or at least injured, and that the school’s vice principal was shot in the foot. A parent on the scene told CNN that she saw the bodies of the dead lying “in pools of blood” in the hallway.
— CNN (@CNN) December 14, 2012
Resources from the Department of Public Health, the Department of Children and Families, the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and the State Department of Education are deploying to the school to coordinate an emergency response.
The governor himself is also en route to Newtown.